Archive for the 'Jarvis Cocker' Category

28
Oct
11

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Part One

Hello…how are you? Well, it’s been quite a long time. Perhaps there are two or three of you out there who still may read this. It’s been a landmark year for me in terms of the gigs I managed to see. Mainly because I kept leaving Winnipeg. In February, I got to see Gang of Four in Toronto, and they were one of the most exciting bands I’ve ever seen. Unlike The Buzzcocks, who I saw last year, GoF are still clearly passionate and earnest about what they do. Andy Gill was a badass, and Jon King was a maniac. And they continue to make excellent, thought-provoking music.

This past summer will be difficult to top, mind. My friend, Laura, and I went on a three-week backpacking trip to Europe built around the Wireless Festival. This was decided in a fevered panic after the Pulp reunion was announced in November of last year. It quickly became apparent that we had no self-control or sense of limits as we continued to plan the trip logistics. Not to mention this is the first time that I’ve had a travel buddy who actually enjoys the same things I do. When we found out that Lou Reed was playing in London the night after Wireless, we bought tickets. When we found out that Big Audio Dynamite was playing in London the night before we flew home, we bought tickets. When we found out that the Manic Street Preachers were playing the Wanaja Festival in Finland two nights before we flew home, we decided we could squeeze it in. Then we threw in the Feeling Gloomy club night on the same day we flew into London, which also happened to be the night before Wireless, just for good, psychotic measure. I don’t regret any of this, but as you will eventually see, it took its toll.

Under the poster of Morrissey with a bunch of flowers…

We attempted to stave off some jetlag by having a late afternoon nap at our hostel, which was perhaps one of the worst hostels I’ve ever stayed in (and I’ve been in ones with bedbugs before). However, exhaustion allowed us to sleep rather soundly for a couple of hours in the mouldering bedroom at the top of a stuffy, crowded building in Bayswater. Slightly refreshed, we then ventured off to Islington for dinner and to the O2 Academy for Feeling Gloomy.

Feeling Gloomy has been one of those mythical club nights I read about, like Stay Beautiful and Against Nature, that I’ve always wanted to go to, but have never had the timing right for, nor have I had a friend that wanted to go. It also seemed related to the mythical indie disco, which we don’t have over here, and for two indie-disco-deprived Canadians, Feeling Gloomy lived up to all expectations. We entered the club to Ultravox’s “Vienna” and were the last to leave as they played The Smiths’ “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.” While it didn’t necessarily stick to doleful melancholia as its title implies, it did fulfill all of my listening wishes, including indiepop, new wave synthpop, 60s girl groups, and post-punk. It was essentially a chance to dance around in a semi-dark room full of strangers and a giant painting of Morrissey to the very same songs already on my iPod. Subtract the strangers, and it’s much like a regular evening in my bedroom. In fact, I’m fairly certain I oscillated wildly between hopping about like Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club, twitching my limbs like Jarvis Cocker, and doing that “Barbarism Begins at Home” twist as performed by Morrissey and Marr. It had been such an amazing experience that it almost didn’t matter that we were stood at 4:00AM in the middle of Islington without a clue of how to get back to Bayswater. We luckily found a cab not driven by a rapist, and stumbled into our pitch-dark, crowded bedroom as the sun came up.

A few hours later, we stumbled back out of bed to wander over to Hyde Park for Wireless. Unlike nearly every other time I’ve visited and/or lived in the UK, there were absolutely no clouds and no rain. After eating small cups of pineapple and Sainsbury pasta salad and watching tourists next to the Marble Arch, we took our place in line with the most eager punters at the Wireless entrance. As much as we would have liked to see Fight Like Apes and Cut Copy at one of the other stages, we enjoyed the pre-Pulp line-up of Vintage Trouble, Devotchka, Metronymy, The Horrors, The Hives, TV on the Radio, and the utterly brilliant Grace Jones, who rode a very surprised security guard over to the crowd barrier. Frankly, we endured leg cramp, exhaustion, sunburn, and dehydration for only one band.

Sing along with the common people…

You could hear Jarvis’s laconic voice in your head as you read through each scrolling line of retro typeface projected on the massive black curtain.

Hello…how are you?
I can’t hear you.
I said!
Make some noise!!
Exciting stuff.
You’re looking good.
Especially you.
Is it nice out there?
Do you want to have a drink?
O.k. I will meet you at the bar.
Is this crazy talk?
Is this legal?
Do you remember the first time?
Is this a hoax?

Of course, the crowd was getting pretty antsy by the time the screen asked if we wanted to see a dolphin. To be fair, despite all of the teasing, they did show us a dolphin. Once the textual banter finally exited stage right, we heard the simulated sizzle and hum of the lurid magenta letters flickering into full glow behind the scrim. P…U…L…P. As expected, once the curtains came down, amidst the blast of confetti cannon, Candida, Russell, Steve, Nick, and Jarvis began with “Do You Remember the First Time?”

I don’t remember the first time, so to speak. The rush of nostalgia for Pulp’s first time round, and its attendant mid-nineties bliss, is a strange emotion for me since it belongs to a different, but no less powerful nostalgia. Mine came out of an imagined past rather than a lived past. I didn’t know of Pulp until three years after their triumphant, myth-making slot at Glastonbury. And I didn’t get heavily into them until they no longer existed. I don’t actually remember the first time, so like watching long-dead galaxies in the night sky, I had lived through the Britpop scene after it had gone supernova.

It’s hard not to get emotional at the impossibility of it. The fact that I had consigned Pulp to the bin labelled “missed opportunity” meant that I always thought they would remain a mediated experience, a forensic encounter patched together with hours of live footage, music videos, music press clippings, book accounts, and bootlegs. They had famously never really broken up, so somehow it paradoxically seemed even less likely they could reform. If there is a benefit to all of this late-noughties-reunion-nostalgia-jingoism hangover, this particular reunion was it. After all of those years, many of them pre-YouTube and pre-torrent, I had built up my memory bank of Pulp. Through their vintage pop melodies and Jarvis’s on-point (anti)social observations, I felt a part of something years after it actually happened. All those imagined moments of jubilantly jumping up and down in a crowd singing “Misshapes” or “Common People,” all of those dreamed and simulated moments of inclusion had collected in the grooves of my brain as a soundtrack to my own awkward bildungsroman.

After their first song, Pulp slipped into the first times of “Pink Glove,” which has one of the most deliciously malicious choruses in the Pulp canon, then “Mile End,” and on into the depths of A Different Class with slight diversions into This is Hardcore and We Love Life, and a double-back into “Babies.” In an effort to take it all in, my eyes flicked back and forth between all of the band members, the inscrutable shades of Russell Senior, the flash of white jacket from Steve Mackey, the sphinxy smile of Candida Doyle, the pumping arms of Nick Banks. But at the centre of it all was Jarvis. I think we all know how I feel about Jarvis by now. The corduroy dynamo was in full flight, specs strapped on, stomach in, chest out. At one point he stood atop a monitor and leaned back so far that his upper body was parallel to the stage floor, a breathtaking act of limbo. At other points, he raced to and fro across the front of the stage, hair streaming, joints articulating and gesticulating wildly. His dance moves are a feat of improv: immediate, ever-shifting interpretations of his lyrics. Some embarassingly literal, some as oblique as a Brian Eno strategy, all of them without a whiff of self-consciousness. And his banter was better and more self-assured than it had ever been, often evoking elements of his more recent incarnation as 6Music DJ.

After lying on his back and cycling his mantis legs in the air, taunting, “I’m coming to get you,” Jarvis grabbed a torch and walked down the stairs and runway to the front of the gaping crowd. As he spoke-sang the opening lines to “I Spy” several feet to the right of me, he shone his torch into the upturned faces of his fans, his voice juddering with intensity. By the time he had moved to directly in front of me, everything seemed to have shifted into a hyperreality of specific details, mundane and yet alien. I can distinctly remember the contracted pupils in the grey-green of Jarvis’s eyes as the torchlight reflected from my glasses into his glasses, and I can recall the shape his right hand made as it gripped the torch handle, each joint of his lengthy index finger and thumb tensed, his wrist cocked just campily so. I didn’t touch him. I didn’t say the lyrics along with him. I didn’t snap a photo in his face. I just stared back at him and smiled with my entire being. I was desperately trying to isolate and preserve the moment in my mind; it was perfect timing because it seems everything else had flown out of my mind during that minute.

Halfway through the set, Laura mimed that her feet were over there. “Over there” turned out to mean several feet to the left of the rest of her body. Shortly thereafter, my feet also ended up being over there. It seemed fitting that we were contorted in a gravity-defying, Cocker-like pose. We were being quite literally carried away by the buoyancy of the crowd. There was none of the grasping tackiness and hollow gesture of so many other recent reunions by other bands. In spite of myself, my vision actually went blurry with tears during the last half of finale “Common People.” Just like the emotion of impossibility realized, a lot of my emotional state was dependent on the transcendence of the crowd; I couldn’t help but get emotional when thousands were singing along with me like every word mattered as much as every gasped breath, especially when just five years ago, I was regarded with boredom and mild confusion as I sang a lonely version of “Common People” at a karaoke night in Winnipeg. With that many people willing the night to be special, it came to pass.

Two men in their forties were behind us in the crowd, and as the audience dissipated, they chatted to us for awhile. One of them felt ecstatically vindicated that he had finally gotten to see Pulp live after missing their 1995 Glastonbury performance due to illness. His eyes were wild with disbelief over what had just happened, and his voice was hoarse with shouting “Was that not the best fucking show ever?” into the night air. He had also told us about how his grandfather always told him to “take snapshots” for his memories; these “snapshots” weren’t stored on film or hard drives, nor were they obtained at the expense of placing a lens between you and reality. His grandfather meant taking photographs with your memory. This man we had met only two minutes ago then asked me if I had taken a snapshot. At that moment, I realized that that was what I had been doing when Jarvis stood within inches of me, pointing a torch in my face. A shred of paper streamer in my damp palm; the nausea that comes with having subsisted all afternoon and night on two jammy dodgers proffered by friendly strangers in the crowd; the shaky limb weariness of catharsis; the dizzy light-headedness and body fever of heatstroke; the dazing aftermath of the enormity of the event causing me to meander aimlessly through the park as I processed it. I finally had my truly first time with Pulp, and I’m so grateful that it came at a time when they were so experienced.

To be continued…

I’ve decided to split this gig-going European vacation into at least two parts, so I will be back at least once more in the near future to write about the rest of the trip.

After that, however, this blog will likely remain relatively dormant, but for good reason: Laura and I have decided to start a new blog called From a High Horse. It will mainly be an MP3 blog, but we may also write about non-musical things as well. I figure having one extra writer may make the endeavour more sustainable. So, if you’re so inclined, pop on over…exciting stuff.

At the Indie Disco – The Divine Comedy

Do You Remember the First Time? (Live at the 2011 Wireless Festival) – Pulp

I Spy (Live at the 2011 Wireless Festival) – Pulp

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13
Dec
09

My Top 40 Albums of 2009: Numbers 16 Through 9

I know…it’s even later than the last one, but I’ll push on. Let’s take a look back at who released albums in the summer of 2009. July produced new albums from Stellastarr, Trashcan Sinatras, The Most Serene Republic, and Nicky Wire’s brother, Patrick Jones. There were also records from the latest Jack White project, Dead Weather; former Boo Radley, Martin Carr; and finally a debut from folk duo Slow Club. And the ginger quiff that is La Roux dropped her first album.

August sweltered on with music from Mew, Japandroids, Calvin Harris, Patrick Wolf, The Antlers, Imogen Heap, and mum. There were also rather hyped releases from Florence & the Machine and Arctic Monkeys (neither really captured me). The xx, which has already appeared on the first part of this countdown, put out a debut. Oh yeah, and the male answer to La Roux, Frankmusik.

Onwards and upwards…

16. Ellipse – Imogen Heap
Imogen Heap is yet another artist that I haven’t always paid a lot of attention to. I confess that most of my familiarity with her came through that Frou Frou track used on the Garden State soundtrack and through the track Hide and Seek, which seemed to pop up here and there last year. And then of course she also dueted with Chris Corner for the IAMX song, My Secret Friend. When I finally got to listen to her latest record, I was hugely impressed with the great frothy folds of song and her breathy vocals; listening to Ellipse is a lot like burying you face in perfumed tulle. Deliciously dreamy, brilliantly offbeat and strangely tribal (tribes of sprites, perhaps), this album chronicles the emotional oscillations involved in any relationship, including with lovers and children. In spots, there are glimpses of Cocteau Twins, but that idiosyncratic inflection and phrasing in Heap’s vocals, along with that synthy double-effect layering that Heap is known for, makes this album a magical warping of reality, a “street-level miracle.” Even lyrics that may have been mundane in anyone else’s hands are made exotic and fantastical.

First Train Home – Imogen Heap

Earth – Imogen Heap

15. Is It Fire? – Jessie Evans
With a voluptuous fusion of Latin rhythms and Berlin cabaret, Jessie Evans debuted with an astonishingly spicy, yet aloof, album. Between the hot beats and the icy vocals, these tracks steam and press into you like a sauna. Songs about lust and hedonism are sung in a strong persona with old-style glamour and chutzpah. Listening to Is It Fire? is like tumbling headfirst into Stromboli at the climax of a black-and-white film; confidently striding in and out of genres, this album feels both old and new, cosmopolitan and global, rough and smooth, rustic and urbane.

Read my earlier review of it here.

Is It Fire – Jessie Evans

Blood and Silver – Jessie Evans

14. “Further Complications” – Jarvis Cocker
It’s the second solo outing from Jarvis Cocker, and it was unexpected in a brilliant way. Recruiting Steve Albini, Cocker’s music is heavier in spots and sometimes downright raucous in a gloriously messy way. But at the same time, it does mournfully slow, but in a pseudo-mawkish way. You’re just never sure how distanced Cocker is from his own lyrics, which makes the record all the more complex and wonderful. This album could have been relegated to a last thrash before middle age really sets in, but those quotation marks change everything. I’ve never been disappointed by viewing the world through Cocker’s NHS frames, and this, in some ways risky, record reaffirmed this.

Read my earlier review of it here.

Further Complications – Jarvis Cocker

You’re in My Eyes (Discosong) – Jarvis Cocker

13. React or Die – Butcher Boy
This Glaswegian band is an ebullient, charming mixture of gentle twee and kitchen sink drama, and I’ve only grown to adore them more with this second album. It is alternately jaunty and tender, and features elegant lines like:

You carve a perfect rose on the door, with hands so soft, with lips so warm. The petals cover me so beautifully, and the flower will fall upon the birdie sheet and growl “say, are we close? How close are we now?” But first we double up with a coffee cup, and the sheets will buckle.

You carve a perfect bird on the wall, with hands so soft, with lips so warm. The bird will sing for me so beautifully, and the notes will fall upon the bed we make so you growl “say, are we close? How close are we now?” And then you comfort me so beautifully, but the knife will buckle.

Lead singer, John Blain Hunt, has a voice that feels as warm and comforting as flannel as the music rises up behind him like a sun-warmed dale. There is something alternately Celtic lilt and John Cale circa Paris 1919 with a dash of Belle & Sebastian. The tender mini-dramas of regular folk are painted with a folktale brush until they’re fairytales. A testament to the power of their music is the first track When I’m Asleep, which only features the lyrics: “When I’m asleep, I never dream. I never feel anything.” It’s powerful because somehow I feel as though I’ve been through an entire range of emotions and stories after listening to this song despite having only heard the same two lines over and over again with slightly different inflections.

When I’m Asleep – Butcher Boy

This Kiss Will Marry Us – Butcher Boy

12. Shirley Lee – Shirley Lee
Frontman for witty band, Spearmint, Shirley Lee released his first solo album this year, and it reinforces the good-natured, detail-oriented ethos of his earlier lyrics. In the hope of breaking away from making just another Spearmint album, Lee embarked on a slightly more personal route, albeit with his band members in tow. The songs range from the plodding Upside Down on Brighton Beach, which seems to parody everything about a place like Brighton, to the folk-pop balladry of The Smack of Pavement in Your Face, which turns the love song on its head with fresh analogies. The whole record has an old feel, a bit like department stores and elevator music, but in a heartwarming, nostalgic way rather than a poke at the fall of grandeur. Youth and all of its fun quirks are laid out in these songs with puppyish energy, leaving you feeling clean and exhausted as though you just took a ride in a tumble-dryer. And there’s something truly endearing about the way he mispronounces Sondre Lerche’s last name “lurch” in Spiralina Girl, a song about Lee’s girlfriend.

Spiralina Girl – Shirley Lee

The Lights Change – Shirley Lee

11. Jet Black – Gentleman Reg
I only discovered Gentleman Reg (AKA Reg Vermue) this year when I saw him open for The Stills. He captivated me then on the spot, and when I later purchased his latest album, I remained under his honeyed spell of bittersweet romance and life experience. So much so, that I ended up buying his previous albums whilst in Toronto this fall. His loose and easy dulcet tones accompany a shambling guitar and flourished keys to create narratives of self-reflection, regrets and hunger. This record feels like the soundtrack to the adventures and misadventures to be explored in the city; the satisfying exhale of breath on those odd days where you actually feel possibility pressing at your temples; the moment a bad experience becomes a good memory. With the delicate and unique assemblage of a charm bracelet, Jet Black captures the desperation, resistance and recklessness that can come with crossing the threshold from twentyish youth to thirtyish maturity and modifying your expectations accordingly. The metamorphosis can be just as difficult and bewildering as adolescence, and this record will be there for you.

To Some It Comes Easy – Gentleman Reg

We’re in a Thunderstorm – Gentleman Reg

10. Cloud Pleaser – David Shane Smith
Like his Stroboscopic labelmate, stanleylucasrevolution (who appeared on 2008’s countdown), David Shane Smith produces some of the most challenging music out there. With a post-apocalyptic form of folk-electronic music and intelligently poetic lyrics, Smith made his latest album sound like a missive from the last man on Earth, his brain synapses burnt out and hanging down by his ears like grotesque headphone wires. Except the end of the world hasn’t happened yet. So no one believes him even as the bleak reality eases its way into their lives. And they remain ignorant because they can’t handle much more information or anything that inconveniences them. What they don’t understand is that the end of the world isn’t an event. It’s a process. And David Shane Smith is one of the prescient artists to document it as eloquently as possible.

Read my earlier review of it here.

Empty Action – David Shane Smith

Eyes – David Shane Smith

9. Bob and Veronica Ride Again – Morton Valence
In the world of music and its digital ubiquity, it becomes harder and harder to find really creative artists making really tangible pieces of art. With London band, Morton Valence, you get more than you pay for. Accompanied by an equally entertaining and thought-provoking novella, this album tells the picaresque story of Bob and Veronica, who eventually fall in love, but the love is never quite a sure thing, and perhaps it was never really love in the first place. And the music follows this non-linear path, looping through multiple genres and sliding in and out of parody. The back of the box reads:

Bob and Veronica.
An unlikely couple. Bob was suburban. And Veronica? Well, she wasn’t.
But so what? Ok, let’s put it another way; they had absolutely nothing in common. But then again, they weren’t planning on starting a social club or saving the world or anything. Bob was simply insanely attracted to Veronica from the moment he first saw her. Veronica took a little convincing. Pretty basic stuff really.
There were no opposites attracting or any of that. Bob doesn’t believe in opposites attracting anyway.
Neither does Veronica.

But they did believe in lust at first sight.

And unlike love, at least lust seems to last forever.

In effect, they’re a lot like all of us. And when you let the characters drive the story, you end up here with this fascinating, unexpected album. You don’t have to understand it because you’ll never understand life either.

Read my earlier review of it here.

Funny Peculiar – Morton Valence

Hang it on the Wall – Morton Valence

This week’s honourable mention is Morrissey’s Years of Refusal. It hurts a little that I couldn’t put him in the actual countdown, but I just didn’t think this album was quite up to it. Don’t get me wrong – I still really enjoyed it, and it contained the gem that is It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore. Perhaps he’s just set the bar so high earlier on, that it gets increasingly difficult to exceed it or surprise me. Read my review of the album here.

Something is Squeezing My Skull – Morrissey

The second part of my weekly mix round-up is coming up in the next couple of days. It’s my last week of work before a couple of weeks off, so things are a bit hectic again. And Friday or soon after, I will have my last installment of this series, which will reveal my top eight albums of 2009.

26
Jun
09

Life Inside Quotation Marks: Jarvis Cocker’s “Further Complications”

Jarvis_cocker_further_complications

I love Jarvis Cocker. Ever since I first saw him doing some limp-wristed clapping in the music video for Common People back when I was a teenager, I’ve thought he’s one of the most attractive men in the universe. NHS spectacles and all. And his music hasn’t really ever disappointed me whether in Pulp or on his own. While Cocker had come to success relatively late for rockstar timelines, his maturity has only brought well-honed depth to his music and lyrics, and he never seems to go out of fashion because he never really was in fashion (okay, maybe for a couple of Britpop years of insanity, but even then, he always appeared to be on the fringes of laddish battle between Blur and Oasis, and he was one of the only Britpop survivors who appears to regret the whole thing). He’s like a particularly fantastic thrift shop find – sometimes a little retro, sometimes a little bizarre, sometimes a little cheap. It’s been a mixed bag of reviews for “Further Complications”, his Albini-produced follow-up to 2006’s Jarvis; some have been confused by the more “rock” direction, some have found Cocker to be a bit too pervy. Oddly enough, I’ve never found Cocker very perverted despite the longtime obsession with sex and its pathetic and/or seedy derivations in his music. It’s his frank, witty take on sex and its varieties and mundanities that make him a fascinating artist and social commentator. As the cover art suggests, Cocker is often a bit bent out of shape, the legendary “misshape,” in fact, and these pipecleaner turnpikes in his view of society and in his work are a large part of his appeal. And because you’re never quite sure about what’s around the corner, Cocker cannot be taken completely seriously nor dismissed lightly. You never quite know when he’s smuggling a tongue in his cheek.

The album begins with the title track as it crashes in with dischordant thrashing before drums and bass get going. Telling the story of the further complications we experience after leaving the womb, this song is filled with Cocker’s signature wit and flair with language and metaphor. The chorus compares life to a carrier bag, which if filled with crap, will snap at the straps, and if too empty, will just blow away; for someone like me who suffers through social interactions on a daily basis and constantly wonders about her life choices and compromises, this song is reassurance in much the same way The Smiths’ Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now always was. By the end of the song, Cocker’s voice is breaking, whooping and thrashing, adding an instability to the song. Angela sounds a bit 60s garage, and uses a great deal of lyric repetition about a twenty-three-year-old woman who works for 4.50 an hour. Some phrases like “I feel the sap rising tonight” and “overzealous hand” may make people a bit uncomfortable; I personally find them quite funny and sad. Pumping with odd robotic sound effects and a surf rock feel, the following track, Pilchard blows through over a minute before Cocker comes in with reverby “ow’s,” and that’s as articulate as he gets for this largely instrumental song.

Filled to the brim with “guilt and self-loathing,” Leftovers is one of my favourites on the album. Against a slightly country-tinged feel, the great lyrics just keep coming in this song as Cocker throws out puns and intertextual references to his own past. Cocker is no longer meeting girls at St. Martin’s, instead he sings, “I met her in the Museum of Paleontology/I make no bones about it” before comparing himself to a dinosaur. He’s always had that ability to give you unexpected turns-of-phrase with a delivery full of comic timing, turning whatever came before on its head (see: “Do you wanna sleep with common people…Like me…She didn’t…Understand”). A string of such odd corners comes with: “He says he loves you like a sister/well, I guess that’s relative/He says he wants to make love to you, but instead of “to,” shouldn’t that be ‘with’?”. While this track could be taken as another creepy come-on from an older man to a younger girl, I think it’s more top-notch self-deprecation from a character who is hopeless, but craves some sort of tangible connection; a lonely man without much to offer but his grammar tips and deft wordplay. He follows this song up with I Never Said I Was Deep, a soulful ballad that makes me think of Lloyd Cole’s melodies. There are more droll phrases as he becomes an utterly unappealing male stereotype with honest admissions about stupidity that play off those men who proudly affirm stereotypes. He sings lines like “I am profoundly shallow/My lack of knowledge is vast and my horizons are narrow” and “I’m not looking for a relationship/Just a…willing receptacle.” The song’s narrator is so repulsive that he becomes an entertaining parody.

I’m not as fond of Homewrecker! as I am of the rest of the album – like Pilchard, it has a large instrumental lead-in, and its lyrics just don’t seem as substantial as Cocker is capable of. There’s a lot of saxophone and bluster, but it doesn’t seem to amount to much. Hold Still returns to a more subdued ballad format, and is actually quite touching in its metaphor and storytelling of losing hold and control of a relationship and desperately wanting to keep things as they are. Cocker’s voice quavers as he tries to keep life from spiralling away from him, making a line like “We’re cosmic dust, but you’re everything to me” seem all the sadder and more poignant. Coming in with some of that oft-cited “rock” influence, Fuckingsong has a monster riff and snarls and buzzes of feedback. The song takes on a double meaning as both a song about sex, but also as a profanity-inducing, frustratingly hollow replacement for the real thing. Caucasian Blues is a glammy romp with screaming, breathless vocals, and with its American influence, it feels a bit like Aladdin Sane if he were more self-aware and ironic. Sample lyrics include:

And so you finally took the plunge
And got into blues rock
And you like to give to charity
Because it’s easier to patronize
Than face the facts and now

I’ve heard it said
That you are hung like a white man

This self-mockery and reversal of racial stereotypes is refreshing, and it pokes further fun at being middle-aged and hopelessly “unhip.” Mellowing out again, the track, Slush, is filled with icy metaphors with the repeated chorus of “my heart melted at your touch, turned into slush.” While, at first glance, this song seems like a sweet song about being saved by the love of another, it then has lyrics that compare the lover’s influence to a blanketing snowstorm, culminating in the rather depressing line, “I barely recognize who or where I am.” And slush isn’t exactly the most appealing metaphor for love – it’s usually dirty and a messy leftover of winter. This song feels like the ultimate loss of oneself in love . There’s a strangled howl at the climax of the song, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s the sound of Cocker choking on his insincerity. Cocker seems to have always had a bit of disco on his mind (Death Goes to the Disco, Disco 2000), and in the last song of the album, You’re in My Eyes (Discosong), he reasserts himself as the sardonic disco king in this slow-burning, groovy tune. In the low, nearly spoken-word parts, he sounds like Barry White…if he were a weedy white man in elbow patches. From Sheffield. And I would definitely fall for him. Like many of the songs on this record, it’s not straightforward and its honesty can creep up on you. The opening lyrics are:

Grey floaters inside my eyes
And visible when you look into a clear blue sky
Memories of days gone by activated by a mirror ball shining bright
In a provincial disco on a Thursday night

You appeared from nowhere beside me on the floor
Identical in every detail to the way you were before
The best part of a decade since you went out of my life
The worst part of a decade, and here you are tonight
By my side

There’s reminiscence of lost youth in this song, but it is grounded in a reality of provincial discos and marred by the deterioration of aging eyes. The mind can’t be trusted and the memories are likely refracted by the disco ball glare, but that same need that makes Cocker sound pervy in other songs is present here in a less visceral, grasping sexual urgency, and is, thus, probably more palatable to people. And could be mistaken for love rather than lust.

This album somehow befits Cocker’s age; in some ways, it’s the ultimate soundtrack to a mid-life crisis. It’s about loss and self-loathing and reflection on the breaking down of a half-life. And though there is no doubt a hint of Cocker himself in these lyrics, he has always been able to adopt a variety of narrative guises, saying what so many of us are thinking and revealing things that so many of us are doing, but with an extra meaning hiding beneath an often dark, sooty patina of wit. He lives so well inside those quotation marks that we can often forget that they’re there. Jarvis Cocker can be many memorable characters at once, and no matter how socially misshapen and/or extreme they are, he is magnetic at the core. He can still be a voyeuristic boy hiding in a closet watching his friend’s sister. He can still be that curmudgeon that was beaten to death by obese children for his mobile phone. He can chase girls half his age at a dinosaur museum. He is still complicated. And I love him.

Leftovers – Jarvis Cocker

I Never Said I Was Deep – Jarvis Cocker




The Hype Machine
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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave

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So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun

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Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head

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Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away

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Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners

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Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away

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You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender

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I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding

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You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black

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Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

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Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb

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Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape

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Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

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And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning

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My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

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Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love

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We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

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Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south

Empty

Running on

Bravado

As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different

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LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell

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Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are

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You must let her go

She's not crying

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Baiting

Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times

Valentines

Hating

Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone

Whipcrack

Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't

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So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need

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The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest

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Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know

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No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more

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All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids

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Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome